CHINA TOWN

The following morning the rain was as persistent as ever. The forensic team had finished their work at the club an hour ago and the body of George Stefanovic, still partially dressed as Pandora Box had been ferried off in the back of a plain black van with tinted windows to a mortuary in North London.

There was still a Police presence at the Cabaret bar however and the street in which it stood was still inaccessible to traffic and passers-by, roped off by flimsy white plastic tape tied to opposite lamp posts at either end with the words "Police Line, Do Not Cross" screen-printed onto it.

There had been an outbreak of influenza which had hit london residents hard. Many blamed the persistently bad weather; it hadn't stopped raining for at least two weeks, but this morning a Doctor on the morning television was trying to convince the population that this was not the case and in fact, it was simply a virus that had condemned many to their beds.

Daisy sat in his grubby little office at the rear of the premises filling his face with a kebab that had been sitting on his desk since 2am, taking little notice of what was being said on his portable television set, but instead allowing his eyes to become mesmerized by the ever changing colours on the screen; despite the constant interference of snow and picture distortion.

The Metropolitan Police had been hit hard by the virus also. Officers of rank were having to do the jobs of constables, much to their disdain, because there simply weren't the bodies available to fill all the required roles. McCreedy was one such officer. He had held the rank of Sergeant for the last three years and yet last night had to accompany the attending Detective Constable to a suspect's home to stand on 'door duty' like some pathetic little Bobby. At least this morning he was allowed to function in ways more suited to his rank.

He knocked of the office door but didn't wait for an invitation to enter. Daisy looked up and poked a piece of stray onion into the corner of his mouth.

"I'd like a word if you don't mind." he told the fat man as he dumped some boxes of flyers onto the floor and pulled the typist's chair they had occupied up to the desk.

"Of course." Daisy replied as he put the remains of his kebab onto a pile of invoices. "And you are?"

"Sergeant McCreedy."

"I won't shake your hand. As you can see, sticky fingers!" Daisy wiggled the fingers on his left hand in a sort of over-camp wave,the grease on them catching the light. "Mind you, looking at you, I'll bet you're a man who's not opposed to a little bit of sticky mess occasionally."

McCreedy cleared his throat.

"Right, down to business." he said, attempting to rapidly change the subject. Daisy was well practiced at flirting however and jumped staraight in with

"Ooh, and we've only just met! You are a fast worker."

"A man died last night, so I would have expected you to be taking this situation a little more seriously."

"You're quite right officer. I'm sorry. What did you need to talk to me about?" Daisy leaned towards McCreedy to fein undivided attention. McCreedy referred to his note book.

"Arthur Fellows, isn't it?"

"Call me Daisy, everybody does."

"Mister Fellows, you are the owner of this establishment I understand?"

"For my sins." Daisy replied.

"Tell me, do you get many Chinese clientele in here?"

"Oh we get all sorts in here. Chinese, Japanese; the Chinese boys go for the older men in general. I expect it's the financial security they look for.There were a group of very cute little Chinese chickens in here only the other night. They are very gracious you know? It's their culture I suppose. Though being so close to China Town, the gay Orientals tend to go further out in general...you know, just incase they are seen by people who know them coming into such a place."

"Were there any in here last night?"

"I don't really know. I usually spot them early-on if there are. I have quite a penchant for Chinese boys; ever the Rice Queen, I am!"

"Really? Do you visit China Town yourself?"

"Just for a look. I never get involved. Well, you have to show some respect, don't you?"

"So you have never interacted with anyone whilst there?"

"Never. Well, unless you count old Mrs. Ling. I like Mrs. Ling. Sweet old dear. Her Grand Son is a bit of a goer, I can tell you. Very pretty boy. He must be about thirty-two but, as is usual for the Easterners, he looks so much younger."

"Who is Mrs. Ling?"

"She runs Ling General Stores in the main street. I  always go there to buy rice and pre-packed spring rolls. I always end up having a good old chin-wag with her. Once us girls get together..."

McCreedy was beginning to lose his patience.

"Mister Fellows, this is a murder investigation so I wish you would just give me straight answers to my questions."

Daisy pondered this for a moment.

"I could do 'straight' if you wish."

"Thank you." McCreedy wasn't going to be baited. "So you didn't personally see any Chinese clients in here last night?"

"You'd have to ask the bar staff I'm afraid. I was back here for most of the evening."

"Doing what?"

"Well, I wouldn't like to say."

"Well I need to know."

"If you must know, I was interviewing potential new staff."

"I thought you were already fully staffed?"

Daisy winked and tapped the side of his nose with a sticky finger.

"That's a code I use when I bring someone 'special' back here."

McCreedy was becoming more uncomfortable in this man's presence by the minute.

"Mister Fellows, if you are not prepared to take this interview seriously I'm going to have to take you down to the station where the conditions will be less informal. Now we can do this in the comfort of your own office, or we can do it MY way." Daisy opened his mouth to respond with a quip but McCreedy held up his hand to stop him. "And that means no more innuendoes. Now; your staff seem rather vague about whether or not any Orientals were in last night. Personally I wouldn't have thought it was too difficult a thing to remember; you were hardly busy."

"They can't be expected to remember every punter who walks through the door."

"Are you aware of any of the staff befriending anyone from China Town?"

"Not really."

"What's that supposed to mean? It's a simple 'yes' or 'no' sort of question."

"Well, there have been one or two behind the scenes over the last few weeks. Apart from looking them over, checking them out, I generally ignore friends of the artistes. We don't want our intentions misunderstood, do we? I can't afford to loose any more acts. God knows I've lost  a few over the months."

"Lost them? You mean they won't perform here any more?"

"One I had to tell to sling their hook after going on stage having downed a whole bottle of Vodka, but a couple of the bigger names have said that the audiences aren't big enough any more. Now of course we've lost poor old Pandora. That's going to seriously effect trade."

"Have any refused to come into the place for any other reason?"

"Now you come to mention it..." Daisy folded one arm across his ample chest, using it to lean his other elbow on as he held an index finger to his lips. "One of the newer ones on the scene...what did he call himself? Young lad, very pretty, both in and out of drag. Lady Garden, that's it! Lady Garden said he wasn't setting foot in the place again after a very poor set one evening about two months ago. Well, to be perfectly honest he wasn't very good. I just put him on Monday nights which are normally very quiet. He hosted a karaoke night."

"Did he give a reason?"

"Well I assumed it was because one of the older ones had been touching him up; that happens a lot with the young boys. But I've asked around and the general feeling was that he had too much attitude so no-one was interested."

"Do you know Lady Garden's real name?"

"Michael something. Hang on..." Daisy opened a battered old diary on the desk and thumbed through to the back pages. McCreedy noticed the illegible hand writing and the general disorder within the book and didn't wonder  why this man's business was failing.

"Here we are...Lady Garden, Michael Wares. He lives in Camden."

"I'd like to take his contact details if you wouldn't mind: we'll need to talk to him." Daisy scribbled the address onto the page of a shorthand notebook and ripped the paper out and handed it to the Sergeant.

"Tell me, why all this interest in China Town?" asked Daisy.

"I'm not at liberty to say at this stage, Mister Fellows. Thank you for your help. I or my colleagues may need to talk to you again, can we always reach you here?"

"Here or in the flat upstairs. I'm hardly ever away from the place. I'm the only Licensee, you see."

"Isn't that rather unusual? There are normally at least two Licensees attached to a business like this."

"There was until I sacked the little bastard. Pardon my French! Caught my Bar Manager dealing drugs on the premises three weeks ago. He knew we had a zero tolerance on drugs and there he was with his own little pharmaceutical business operating from the Gents' toilets."

"Do you have any contact details for him?"

"Give me that paper back and I'll jot them down." He took the notebook page back from the Sergeant and scribbled some more notes. "There you are. Tony Tester; lives just off Shaftesbury Avenue above his parents' restaurant. The Golden Pagoda; you can't miss it, it's the one with a red and gold Chinese dragon standing outside."

McCreedy took back the paper and stared at it.

"He's Chinese?"

"Mixed race. He looks English but there's a suggestion of the Oriental in his face. I think it's his Mother whose English."

"Thank you Mister Fellows, you've been most helpful." McCreedy turned to leave.

"Call me Daisy darling, everybody does!"

 

The End

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